He walked with agonising difficulty, his hind legs arthritic, his back a terrible burden to him. It was as though will alone kept him upright. He was barely able to round the mausoleum, and kept stopping. With each tired step he took, his owner stooped to say something to him and patted his head. Laid her hand upon him would be a better way of putting it. A long, infinitely gentle touch, as though to lend him some of her vital spirit.
Whether she was urging him to get up and walk a little further, or telling him he could just sit down now in the gravel if that was what he wanted, take his final rest there and then, I couldn’t hear. But by some agreement they reached a bench where they could pause: she on the seat, he, folded under himself, at her feet.